The year of the weasel

Giovanni DA COL
2014 HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory  
Weasel word: "intentionally evasive or misleading speech; equivocation" -Collins English Dictionary At times, one encounters ethnographies recounting dystopian worlds. The fact that they are released at the end of a year is not coincidental, but it is entirely unpremeditated. The 18 th December 2014 marked the much-awaited release of the evaluation of the infamous UK REF-which stands for Research Excellence Framework. Non-British academic natives should be reminded that the REF demands from
more » ... EF demands from each faculty member the submission of four publications (books are counted as articles) from the preceding five years to a panel of experts who will allegedly read them all and judge their merit-their "value added"-as a criterion for a department's future access to funding. The keyword here is "research impact" and so much has been written both inside and outside academia on the subject that yours truly does not feel capable of adding anything sensible and unbiased at the moment. While writing this note, I hear rumors that the anthropology rankings have been baffling. Talks of "invisible hands" and aleatory criteria are proliferating while British anthropologists once again face their everyday equivocations and reflect on the multifariousness of the term "impact"-academia's very risqué "I-word. " The very last month of the year also hosted the last AAA meeting with its demising and rising turns, cliques and schools competing for their fifteen-minute blaze of glory. Here, "impact" assumed the form of performative effects and efforts for subscribing to established fads, criticizing any (previously fashionable) turn, or quoting the latest French or Italian social theorist to gain access to top-tier journals while applying crafted strategies of incestuous referencing with little or no care toward the accidental obliteration of the intellectual history of the discipline. It might be worth recalling that one of the alleged etymologies of "weasel word" lies in the
doi:10.14318/hau4.3.001 fatcat:ph4zj7lsnffn5ndxcuncwhy5ta